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The Horse Boy: A Memoir of Healing Paperback – April 2, 2010
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"Isaacson's astonishing memoir reveals how, inspired by these rare moments in the saddle, he began a quest through Mongolia to heal his five-year-old son.... Isaacson's journey to heal his son is just that, a healing, not a cure. But he wouldn't want it any other way. While the author's purpose was to draw Rowan out of his autism, he came to realize the overlooked gifts it entails. The Horse Boy will leave readers with a new appreciation for autism and the healing techniques of other cultures; like Rowan, they, too, will be changed forever."―Bookpage
"Everyone who is fascinated by the human-animal bond should read this totally engrossing book." ―Dr. Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
"Rupert Isaacson has conjured a non-fiction journey that reads like an epic novel. It is a book of endless amazements. The world of Mongolian shamans, the details of adventuresome travel, the mysterious world of autism--all are all amazing. Soon, you realize that the world of horses is mysterious, too--and, yes, amazing. By the time you are in the grip of this book, you'll see love, marriage, and parenthood as a realm of magic, profound power, and further amazements. The Horse Boy can change the way you see your life, and it's a terrifically good read at the same time. It feels like a classic."―Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Hummingbird's Daughter and The Devil's Highway
"In this intense, polished account, the parents of an autistic boy trek to the Mongolian steppes to consult shamans in a last-ditch effort to alter his unraveling behavior.... Isaacson records heartening improvement in Rowan's firestormlike tantrums and incontinence, as he taps into an ancient, valuable form of spirit healing."―Publishers Weekly
"A colorful real-life adventure with inspiring results."―Good Housekeeping
"Isaacson charts his son's progress and regressions with an endearing tenderness.... Readers also follow the rare moments when Rowan expresses affection for his father, who is honest and humble throughout. And the author's chatty and self-deprecating storytelling adds a welcome buoyancy to a weighty experience. Meanwhile, Mongolia makes a fetching backdrop for this father/son love story.... Rooting for Rowan through all this... makes The Horse Boy an unexpected page turner."―The Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Rupert Isaacson was born in
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This is an earthshaking book. The author, Rupert Isaacson has done a real service to parents of "diagnosed" children of any age by showing how beliefs and leaps of faith can change outcomes. By the time you read my review, the story of a father taking his autistic son to Mongolia to ride horses and visit shamans has been well covered by other reviewers. The genius of this book is in showing that there is a world of holistic help out there for those who seek it. You don't have to travel to Mongolia; there are shamans in every country of the world who have kept up with ancient practices.
For several years I have been occupied in writing my own memoir about my son, except in this case the diagnosis was "schizophrenia." Once I realized, as the author of this book did, that our family was on own our own in finding real help for schizophrenia, that's when it began to get interesting and rewarding, if you have an open mind and are willing to suspend disbelief.
The huge contribution of The Horse Boy is in showing how relevant shamanic healing is and how quickly it can work compared to taking a conventional medical route. In fact, the conventional medicine route has failed schizophrenia, and it seems to have done the same for autism. Autism and schizophrenia, to my way of thinking, are not medical conditions, although they masquerade as medical conditions. Major Western religions and western "science" has convinced us to reject shaman practices as the naive beliefs systems of primitive peoples. My experience with shamanic practices with my own son have convinced me that Hermann Hesse was absolutely right, that science is in the stone age compared to ancient wisdom.
Isaacson has meticulously documented the changes that his son experienced almost immediately following each shamanic ceremony. When my own son underwent an assemblage point shift, using quartz crystal wands and heated gemstone lamps, I saw a lasting change in him within five minutes of getting up off the table. When my husband, my son and I undertook a shamanic therapy based on Zulu practices called Family Constellation Therapy, we were told to just walk away from it, not discuss what we had observed, and the magic would happen. The magic happened for my son several months later. He emerged from his almost non-verbal shell into a social young man.
The author did so many things right. He looked past the autism diagnosis and marvelled at the magic associated with the condition. He was uneasy with the day program his son attended, which he felt only reinforced his son's autistic tendencies. I felt the same way about the day program my twenty year old son attended. I wish more people would think about what these programs are reinforcing beyond patient behaviour. There is a vast mental health industry out there that needs constant feeding.
It's better to believe in magic. Magic has a lot to offer these conditions that drugs and day programs cannot. One of my big criticisms about the "official" lack of progress in schizophrenia is that we have been led down the garden path when it comes to the role of the family background in producing these conditions. This is where the drug companies really score big. It's not parenting, it's faulty brain chemistry, they console us, all the while prescribing drugs (far too many) which are supposed to allow our relative to "function." Shamans doesn't believe in that sort of drug company nonsense. They go straight to the source, and yes, it's usually found in our complex family backgrounds. Believing in family curses is what shamanism is all about. The Old Testament of the Bible is awash in curses,but the modern church steers us to the cheerier aspects of our religion, embarrassed about the quaint way the ancients saw the world. As the Horse Boy attests to, a death in the family, especially one that is tragic and young, has a ripple effect down the generations. Karmic debts have a way of accumulating. Restless ancestors have a way of interfering in the present. The good news is that you can clear this. The bad news is that many people are frightened of the focus on the family and prefer to believe that their relative has a damaged brain.
A fabulous book that deserves an even wider audience.
Hopefully by sharing Rowan's story you will inspire others to think out of the box for ways to help autistic children.